The foundations of Both ENDS
In 1986, representatives from 15 Dutch environmental organisations met to discuss the daily reality that thousands of nature- and environmental organisations in developing countries have to cope with. All these organisations contribute to the wellbeing of people and their natural environment in their own way: preventing roads from being built in endangered rain forests or protecting coral reefs in valuable fishing waters. These organisations often operate within a context of political repression and lack information, contacts and financial, political and moral support.
In reaction to this serious issue, Dutch environmental organisations created Both ENDS: Environment and Development Service. The former IUCN-ledencontact (now IUCN Netherlands) adopted Both ENDS as a project. The project’s goal was to offer support and guidance to organisations around the world. It also wanted to find a way to bring the worlds of development cooperation and environmental protection together. By 1990 Both ENDS was strong enough to continue its mission as an independent foundation. We were registered officially on December 20, 1990.
Supporting civil society
Since 1986, Both ENDS has supported many hundreds of environmental organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and countries in Central- and Eastern Europe. We have offered help in fundraising, in creating networks in and outside the Netherlands and in collecting relevant information. We also brought concerns of groups of people in developing countries to the attention of policymakers and the corporate world on a local, national and international level.
Together with local organisations we have initiated programs that were specifically focused on the sustainable management and protection of river basins, forests, wetlands and dry areas.
Dialogue with decision makers
In its efforts to connect people for change Both ENDS’ experience confirmed that sustainable and inclusive development is only possible within an economic system that takes social and environmental values into account. So next to supporting civil society and promoting sustainable practices, civil society participation in policy dialogue is important as well.
To that end Both ENDS regularly organized seminars, expert meetings and ‘political cafes’ with members of the Dutch Parliament, decision makers in public institutions and companies, scientists and other civil society organisations. Both ENDS became a trusted dialogue partner to many institutions in both the Netherlands and at the international level.
Both ENDS in the 2020s
Developments in information technology over the past decades have changed our way of working with partners. Partners have access to a lot more information than they had in the 1990’s, so their asks to Both ENDS have changed accordingly. We are no longer a “service desk” for civil society organisations in the Global South, but rather a sparring partner and information broker in a wide range of formal and informal networks. Together we defend civic space, advocate for fair and sustainable international economic relations and encourage transformative practices that reinforce the livelihoods of local communities.